Abreu accepts White Sox qualifying offer

November 15th, 2019

CHICAGO -- will be back with the White Sox for at least the 2020 season.

Abreu accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer from the team Thursday, joining the Twins’ Jake Odorizzi as the seventh and eighth players who have received qualifying offers to accept it since the system was implemented in 2012.

There was very little doubt Abreu would end up anywhere but back with the White Sox as he became an organization staple during his previous six years with the team. He agreed to a six-year, $68 million deal prior to the 2014 season, which marked the most money ever allocated to one player in a single contract by the White Sox.

“A lot of love, a lot of mutual admiration throughout the organization right on up to [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf],” general manager Rick Hahn told reporters at the General Managers Meetings this week in Arizona. “José knows how we feel.”

Hahn also mentioned the team would remain in contact until Abreu figured out where he was going to play next year. But the qualifying offer acceptance does not preclude the White Sox and Abreu from continuing talks on a multi-year deal.

That deal would figure to be somewhere in the three-year range, which would work for both the team and Abreu. First baseman Andrew Vaughn, the team’s top pick in the 2019 Draft, could be with the White Sox by 2021, meaning Abreu could finish his time on the South Side at designated hitter, and the White Sox will continue to look for an upgrade at the DH spot during this offseason. The basic idea is that Abreu wants to stay with the White Sox and wants to win with the White Sox, with the team looking at its contending window potentially opening this season depending on the moves made over the next few months.

Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants), Gerrit Cole (Houston Astros), Josh Donaldson (Atlanta Braves), Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis Cardinals), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), Will Smith (San Francisco Giants), Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals) and Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) declined their club’s qualifying offers.

If a player rejects the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, the club he left will receive Draft pick compensation and the club that signs him will forfeit a Draft pick, and in some cases multiple picks. The value of those picks varies based on whether or not the clubs receive (or pay into) revenue sharing and whether or not the player’s new contract exceeds $50 million (full explanation here).

If a player accepts a qualifying offer, he and the club are locked into a one-year contract worth $17.8 million for the 2020 season. Though it should be noted that players who reject a QO are still free to negotiate a new deal -- for one year or multiple years -- with their original team. Also, players are ineligible to receive a QO if they were traded during the preceding season (Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers to Cubs in the summer 2019, for example) or if they have received a QO before (Yasmani Grandal, who got one from the Dodgers last winter).

Over a career-high-tying 159 games in 2019, Abreu topped the American League with 123 RBIs to go with 33 home runs, 38 doubles and a .284 average. Abreu sits sixth on the franchise’s all-time home run list with 179, and he needs 21 more to become the fifth player to hit 200 homers as part of the White Sox. He needs 43 to surpass Hall of Famer Harold Baines for third on the all-time list, where he would trail only Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko.

Some will point to Abreu’s .325 and .330 on-base percentages over the past two years, respectively, and his defense at first as factors weighing against the 32-year-old. As the White Sox have pointed out, though, they hold Abreu in high value as a player and as a clubhouse presence.

Eloy Jiménez recently spoke to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi about the positive influence Abreu had upon him, while 2019 MLB batting champion Tim Anderson pointedly stated how Abreu deserved to be part of this team when it went from rebuilding to contending. Abreu will have that chance for one more year and a decent chance at even more.